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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
European air strikes: How will you be affected?
Thousands of holidaymakers face flight delays and cancellations on Thursday as Spanish air traffic controllers and other workers go on strike.

More than 80,000 Britons could be affected by the 24-hour walkout, which is part of a general strike in Spain.

The industrial action comes a day after air traffic controllers in France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Hungary staged their own walkout, in protest against EU plans for a Europe-wide air traffic system, leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled or delayed.

Opponents to the EU's plans believe the Single Skies system will lead to job losses and privatisation. European Commission officials have said that the strikes risk damaging European airlines just as they are beginning to recover from months of economic difficulties.

Have you been affected by the strikes? How much impact do you think they will have on Europe's airline industry?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I absolutely agree with the strikers reasoning in this matter, and their fight against the EU trying to infiltrate another area of our lives, but equally I am against striking when it causes so much strife. Surely Air Traffic Control is an essential service, and safety is at risk.
Matthew R. Illsley, England

Where strikes affect people other than the employer, they should be made illegal.

Jon Cooper, UK
Where strikes affect people other than the employer, they should be made illegal. This is outrageous - are we still in the 1970s? Spain has the highest unemployment in the EU and when the government tries to do something about it by making a small step to freeing up the labour laws the Unions don't like it! Unions speak for working people but do great harm to those who cannot get a job by their protectionism and inflexible outdated attitudes.
Jon Cooper, UK

I couldn't travel to Paris on Tuesday because my return flight on Wednesday was cancelled. It was very frustrating. I think the air industry is probably killing itself, the way many industries around Europe have done in the past. The people who strike like this don't give a damn for their fellow human beings. They use striking as their first weapon not their last. Come on - get your bums to work and let us get to ours.
Thom, UK

My experience of strikes are that they are a last resort when all other solutions have been exhausted. If management are also prepared to let things reach this stage then perhaps they too should receive the same criticism that the strikers are receiving. However, as usual, only the strikers are vilified. Nobody wants a strike but the management are prepared also for the travelling public to take the consequences and for the strikers to take the blame.
Peter Watters, USA

Single Skies is far safer than the current system

Peter Nelson, USA
I'm amazed at the number of people in this Talking Point who have fallen for the strikers' line that this is about safety. Single Skies is far safer than the current system. This is nothing but another union promoting its own cause.
Peter Nelson, USA

I am due to fly LAX to Brussels via London. I don't mind a delay but my travel dates are very limited due to a strict school schedule. I hope that the delays will be in hours not days
Nicolas Pacheco, USA

The amount of cargo that we have taken orders for Saturday, Sunday, Monday delivery to our clients in Rome, Athens etc has been held up. We will lose business and then our clients will face lot of problems if they do not get their goods. We hope that the strike is amicably settled.
Rajesh Menon, Oman

Flight fares have more than doubled in 5 days

L. Sharpe, Malaysia
I have just spent a frustrating few days trying to organise flights to and from UK - Malaysia. Flight fares have more than doubled in 5 days as a result of changing bookings to try to avoid delays. However, I support this action. If air traffic control is privatised, pressure to make profits on a service already so stressful will be tragic. Imagine Britain's train crashes since privatisation, then multiply by 100.
L. Sharpe, Malaysia

So, the EU wants to streamline air traffic control and bring it under one system, so reducing delays and costs? Oh and, of course, air traffic controller jobs - so, of course, this is all about safety?
Craig Miller, UK

People don't realise that the majority of delays are generated at the airports, not in the air. Just look at the departures board at one of the bigger airports. You will notice that many flights are announced at the same time! How do you think we can put all of them in the air safely? Airliners trying to maximize the usage of their fleet are causing you to wait in the lounges. And they always hide behind "Due to ATC restrictions"...
Dalibor Jovanovic, Slovenia

Every time an aircraft crosses from one air traffic control zone to another, it has to "sign out" of one zone and "sign in" to another. This requires air traffic controller time and increases the risk of accidents. The Single Skies project aims to reduce the number of separate air traffic control zones in Europe. If the air traffic controllers' overriding concern was safety, rather than protecting their jobs, they would have welcomed the initiative.
Andrew Newman, England

I hope that all those concerned are satisfied that the only people they hurt are the traveller

Carol Hollett, England
My husband and I are due to go on our first sun holiday for eight years on Saturday. I am so worried that our holiday will be ruined after looking forward to it (and struggling to pay for it!!) for so long. I hope that all those concerned are satisfied that the only people they hurt are the traveller and not the powers that be.
Carol Hollett, England

It's a sad reflection on our times that I read your title "European air strikes: how will you be affected?" and instantly thought of bombs. Perhaps you could phrase things more carefully in future.
Andrew, UK

I certainly will be affected - and I couldn't be happier! My company wants me to go to Spain for a couple of days, and I really don't want to go. I thoroughly dislike all the messing around with taxis, hotels, endless meetings and lonely evenings in a hotel room. They know this too, but as my boss has 'more urgent things to attend to' - ie the World Cup - I have been given no choice. As the current action might mean I'd be out of the office longer than expected, my trip has been cancelled. Marvellous!
Geni, UK

The strikers are right because they have been driven to strike by the air line corporations who put profit first and safety for passengers and workers last. Support the air traffic control workers who seem to be the only ones who care about airline and passenger safety!
Eugene Craig, California, USA

Flying over Europe is a nightmare

Martin Sim, UK
As an airline pilot I both agree and disagree with these strikes. Flying over Europe is a nightmare, having to contact every different country's own airspace and the regions within it. This causes 80% of my delays waiting to be handed over. However, I think it is wrong for them to cause such disruption. They are actually causing a problem they are hoping to solve! I am dreading my Malaga flight tomorrow!!!!
Martin Sim, UK

My fiance and I are travelling to Ibiza on Sunday and although the travel agent says that we will not be affected it has caused us some concern. But after reading why the controllers are on strike I believe they are justified in taking action and what better time to do it than at a peak period?
Louise Ladkin, England

I am absolutely disgusted. I think that the countries should be able to settle this without strikes - we're in the 21st Century now for god's sake! I have been waiting for my holiday since January, I have even been counting the days and now it might not even happen!
Andrew, UK

With the coming of summer, people are going on holiday and our southern European cousins are on strike as usual. They do not care about the pain or inconvenience they cause. They have job security and will get their way because governments always give in to their games. Those who want to see stronger union representation here beware. I am pro-European and pro-union but I am sick and tired of the way they abuse the systems. My daughter is going on holiday on Saturday after intense pressure of A levels. Now she will have to face this. I give up!
Terry Emerson, London, UK

The only issue at stake is their own job security

Dominci, UK
On the one hand we could see a safe centralised system, or the present idiotic system of one plane being controlled by several different systems on its journey. Once again we see workers trying to get the public on side by mentioning safety, but as most people can see the only issue at stake is their own job security.
Dominci, UK

How very predictable. I know the air needs to be a safe place, but why now? At this time, I'm flying to Sicily on Saturday for a well-deserved holiday, and I'm starting to pray.
Chris Whitaker, England

We all like to go to the sun as quickly and cheaply as possible to get away from the wet and wind but let us be sensible and back those who want us to arrive there and back safely. We have seen how reducing local knowledge and local lifeboat stations have reduced the coastal safety - let's not make the skies less safe too.
Ann Royden, Scotland

I am due to fly to Venice on Thursday morning with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. The trip was a special 60th birthday present for my mother-in-law. While I understand, and sympathise with the air traffic controllers, we are the losers in this. No one compensates us for the loss of our holiday or offers us alternative dates. It is not that easy to find all that money over again. I'm afraid a trip to Gatwick does not compare to Venice. We are all very disappointed.
Julia, UK

Another disgusting lack of responsibility on behalf of these people. The sooner they are replaced by a Europe-wide system, hopefully with less ability for the controllers to sabotage people's travel plans, the better.
Dave, Luxembourg

I believe the strikers are right to bring this to the attention of the general public

Nick Cummins, UK
So, you'll have to sit in an airport for a couple of hours, get over it! Air traffic control is one of the single most important factors in travel across Europe today. I believe the strikers are right to bring this to the attention of the general public. Anything that affects safety is vital. How many travellers are aware of the complexity of modern air travel? Any attempts by the EU to tamper with this should be looked at very closely indeed. The fears about job losses should be important to everyone. Do you really want FEWER controllers, with less local knowledge?
Nick Cummins, UK

I have been planning a trip to see my girlfriend in Amsterdam via Paris for 3 months. If my flight is cancelled I will go mad!
David Taylor Evans, Wales

I was due to fly out from East Midlands today and return on Friday. My flight has been changed to tomorrow flying out at 22:55pm arriving at Ibiza for 01:30am only to fly back 25 minutes later! I have lost my money for booking and BMIBABY.COM can't do anything else for me as it's not their fault so they say, so as a customer I have lost 68.00 and am also missing a night I had planned since early this year in Ibiza Subliminal Sessions Opening Party! *SIGH*!
Imran Arshad, Birmingham, UK

I am due to fly to Tenerife 15:30 on Friday. I am dreading these delays. I can only afford one holiday every couple of years. I don't that it is fair that a group of workers, (however important their cause is) can hold everyone to ransom like this.
Andi, England

The EU is right to try and reform an outdated system that hinders safe and efficient travel in Europe. Ask any commercial airline pilot what the biggest cause of delay is and they will tell you it's the air traffic control system. It's high time it was radically reformed.
Iain, UK

The EU is now about to reap the rewards of its outdated employment laws

Edwin, UK
Ah! Like tangerines mark the coming of Christmas, so ATC strikes in France are more reliable than the first swallow of Summer. It would seem that the EU is now about to reap the rewards of its outdated employment laws. I can't help but smile!
Edwin, UK

We are due to fly to Majorca on Friday. We were involved in the Balearic island strikes misery the same time last year. If we are delayed again then this will be our last visit Spain or its islands. Their action directly impacts on their largest national income - tourism. Hopefully it will back fire on them all.
Antonia Power, England

I'm due to take my first holiday in years on Friday 21 June. I hope to be able to get to Cyprus on time and without any hassle or stress. With all these strikes, you sometimes have to ask, if it is worth travelling at all.
Cliff Reeket, UK

As an England fan desperate to watch what should be a mouth-watering game against Brazil on Friday, imagine how pleased I am to be flying between 7.40 and 10.30GMT! I must be one of the few people secretly hoping for a couple of hours delay to my flight to Italy on Friday so that I can watch the match live. OK, call me selfish, but I'm almost inconsolable at the thought of being 30,000 feet up in the air for England's most exciting game since the Germany game in Italia 90.
Al Cumming, UK

The overriding issue here is your safety

Phil Daniels, Belgium
I fully empathise with all those who are inconvenienced by such actions. But please understand that the overriding issue here is your safety. Deaths due to an unsafe European ATC infrastructure will be a lot more inconvenient - and then your relatives will be asking why air traffic controllers didn't try to do anything about it if they could have foreseen this! You and your loved ones' lives are at stake and European ATC personnel need your understanding and your support.
Phil Daniels, Belgium

I am disgusted by these strikes. I am due to fly to Venice on Thursday to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband. These strikes often cause hurt and anguish to people as well as great inconvenience. Have they no conscience?
Kathy Kew, England

My friend and I are off to Ibiza tonight for a week's partying after a year of hard work. We've been looking forward to this for ages, and I'm beginning to think it's something to do with me because I got caught up in September 11 delays last year. I've rang up the airport and frustratingly they tell me my delay could be anything from half an hour to 24 hours! Very helpful! I'm not looking forward to tonight as I think we'll be sleeping on the floor of Birmingham Airport instead of the hotel room we've paid for. Not happy!
Sarah Millward, England

Air traffic controllers striking during a peak holiday period? What a surprise! No I will NOT be affected by this strike. This is why my wife and I are holidaying in the gorgeous Lake District.
Toby Cottrell, England

Surely a delay is better than being involved in an accident

Chris Ross, Germany
I am annoyed that flights will be delayed due to this industrial action but surely a delay is better than being involved in an accident.
Chris Ross, Germany

Being a professional in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, we will be badly affected as tourist numbers will go down due to lack of air transportation from Europe.
Manjula Hapuarachchi, Sri Lanka

Every summer we see air traffic controllers and pilots strike, timed to cause maximum inconvenience. Why can we not replace everything with computer control and ensure that strikes are a thing of the past?
James Andrews, Hong Kong

Me and my mates are going on holiday for the first time together on Saturday. We've all been looking forward to this for months. I will be outraged if this affects us.
Adam Prosho, England

It is us, the normal people, who suffer the most, who have no say

Barbara Mertens, Germany
My mom and I are still looking forward to our trip to Amsterdam, London, Chichester, Cornwall and Brussels. However, if the strike continues into the weekend and the next three months, can you hold over the Floriade and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and take lots of slides and videos for us in America? I hope we are still able to travel on Thursday night leaving Minnesota at 8:55pm and arriving Amsterdam at 12.10pm so please, please support your local air traffic controllers because we need them! And of course, please support all transportation workers in Europe!
Tracy Norstrom, USA

Well, I really think we should use and develop train connections inside continents. They produce no ozone. Trains like London - Paris - Milan, could leave every hour. Or Berlin - Hamburg - Brussels - Paris - Madrid. Who needs to fly? People that busy are too busy! Travelling to another continent or a charter flight to a holiday resort is still OK. The sky in Europe is fuller of iron birds than clouds, I can't see the sun!
Developer, France

I am waiting for my husband to come home after a long working stay in Gabon, only to find that the air traffic controllers are going on strike. I cannot get in touch with anyone. Is my husband on the flight from Gabon yesterday, will he arrive in Paris, will he be able to travel home to Hamburg? Who can I contact? I never thought I would say this but I agree now with Maggie Thatcher when she broke the unions in England and I think someone should break the European unions when they can cause so much distress and chaos to so many people. It is us, the normal people, who suffer the most, who have no say. What annoys me the most is that these people are incontestable. They will not show their faces, they will not speak, they are cowards who rely on voice message machines.
Barbara Mertens, Germany

See also:

20 Jun 02 | Europe
18 Jun 02 | Europe
18 Jun 02 | Business
08 May 01 | Business
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